Watching a black man in the shower

Michael Wood

The heart of Young Soul Rebels, visually and dramatically, is a scene in an East London club, noisy, cheerful, full of glitter and bounce. Punk and soul music alternate on the disco deck; punk and soul styles are jumbled on the dance floor. Men and women, black and white, gays and straights, mix easily if loudly, having a good time. Two men are seen kissing, but only a newcomer, and our camera, linger over the event. The general effect is raucous and chaotic, but not strident or violent. The punks don’t really dance, they just jump heavily up and down. The soul brothers and sisters have all the rhythm and elegance that cliché awards them; but then one of the suggestions of this film is that clichés have to be worked with, that there is no way round them, and (at present) no place beyond. The time is the summer of 1977, the year of the Queen’s Jubilee, but the real celebration is here, every Saturday night: a festival of plurality.

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